When I quit drinking alcohol, we expected it to have a profound impact on our marriage, and it did. It was just not the impact we expected.
When I quit drinking alcohol, our relationship got so much worse.
Alcoholism is terrible, but quite often, the devil we know is more manageable than the unknown of early sobriety. Alcoholism is a slow progression covering years or decades. Sobriety is a stark and sudden whiplash of reality. And while it is absolutely a prerequisite to love, trust and intimacy, sobriety destroys a lot of struggling marriages.
When a marriage is gasping for the oxygen of truth, it often drowns in resentment.
But there is hope. Marriages can evolve from the trauma of alcoholism and the desperation of sobriety, and we are helping people discover the path home to trust and intimacy.
In 2020, we published our first book, soberevolution: Evolve into Sobriety and Recover Your Alcoholic Marriage. There are three distinct sections to soberevolution. The first section is about my progression into alcoholism, and the middle section is about my permanent sobriety.
But the third section…that part is all about recovering our alcoholic marriage. That third section has grown from our lived experiences, to words on those pages, to now, our group of connection and healing for people trying to experience their own Marriagevolution.
There are three components to the recovery of an alcoholic marriage. The drinker has to recover (yes, sobriety is absolutely, undisputably a prerequisite), the spouse has lots of work to do in recovery, and the relationship has to recover, too. Marriagevolution is all about the recovery of the union once the two individual recoveries are under way.
We want to be super clear about this: In our experience, and in the experiences of the hundreds of couples with whom we are familiar, all three things have to happen for mutual love to return to the marriage. Love and alcohol can’t coexist. Love and resentment cannot survive together, either. There is no room for controlling each other or “fixing” each other. We have to do our own work. But we also have to work on the together.
The individual work doesn’t have to be complete in order for Marriagevolution to be effective. In fact, the alcohol doesn’t even have to be completely gone from the relationship before the couple can join us and understand what we are all about. We welcome marriages who are exploring this solution to try us on for size. Recovery takes time and tremendous effort. We’ll meet you wherever you are in your marriage, and try to help you navigate your way home.
What is Marriagevolution?
Marriagevolution is all about connection, shared experience, searching for answers, and healing. Our live session are held via video call one Saturday morning a month (usually the month’s first Saturday) from 8am to 9:30am Mountain Time.
The sessions start with about 20 minutes of shared experience led by us, Matt and Sheri Salis. Sometimes, we invite experts and fellow Marriagevolutionaries to share during this first part of the sessions. The point of this introductory period is to explain something we’ve come to believe as a universal truth of recovering an alcoholic marriage.
The topics might be controversial or hard for some of our participants to hear or accept. But they are always the truth as we know it, from our experience and the experiences of so many others. We are trying to save you time. You can reject these universalisms if you like, but the road to marriage recovery runs through them.
After the initial presentation, we engage our participants in The Story Writing Workshop – 7 Minute Prompts edition. We read a writing prompt like, “What are your hopes for your marriage?” or, “What does recovery mean for you?” Then, all participants are given seven minutes to write to the prompt. That’s all participants – both people in the marriage are encouraged to write separately. No copying. No peaking and no cheating. Eyes on your own work.
After the seven minutes of writing, we ask writers to volunteer to read what they wrote. When a reader finishes sharing, we provide relentlessly positive feedback. We encourage our writers to be vulnerable – to share their truth. We reward that vulnerability with the support and connection that fosters true healing and discovery!
The only way to fail at The Story Writing Workshop is to not try. You can write a single sentence or a single word. You can give poetry a try, or draw a picture. You can trace the outline of your hand – do anything that feels comfortable. Just use the seven minutes to consider the prompt and do something to move toward your truth.
While we strongly encourage the sharing of stories, some people choose not to do so. In some cases, we run out of time before everyone who wants to read has an opportunity. In those cases we encourage two things.
- Read your story to your spouse, and talk about it.
- Post your story to our Marriagevolution group page for others to read and resonate with.
We use an online communication forum to connect Marriagevolution participants between the monthly video meetings. In addition to posting your writing, marriagevolutionaries can ask questions, share successes, provide empathy, post resources and explore topics related to alcoholism and marriage recovery.
The sessions are a firm 90 minutes in length. We host Marriagevolution on Saturday mornings to make it as accessible as possible for busy families, but we don’t want to take over your weekend. We start promptly and respect your time.
Our story attracts people who are busy like we are. If you can’t make a video call session, we understand, and offer a recorded video solution. Shortly following each Saturday session, we make available a video of the first 20 minute shared experiences section. The video also includes the writing prompt and instructions to the writers. The video does not include names, images or voices of the participants in the live session. The videos are recorded separately (they are not ZOOM recordings) to protect the privacy of all participants in Marriagevolution.
If you have to miss, you won’t miss a thing! All marriagevolutionaries have access to video versions of the sessions as longs as you remain a participant in the group.
One more thing about the videos…the live Marriagevolution video call events are for couples only. If you are having trouble convincing your spouse to join us, please use the recorded videos to help you do the convincing. It does not work to have only one half of the marriage represented on the live video calls. It creates confusion and discomfort for some of the participants (“Hey, if her husband doesn’t have to be here, why do I have to?!?!”). The live video calls are for couples only.
Join the Marriagevolution!
All participants in our SHOUT Sobriety program for high-functioning alcoholics in early recovery, and all participants in our Echoes of Recovery program for the loved ones of alcoholics, have access to Marriagevolution. No additional donation is requested.
If you are not enrolled in SHOUT Sobriety or Echoes of Recovery, we welcome you to join Marriagevolution! To support our ongoing mission to crush the stigma of alcoholism, we require a recurring monthly donation of $25 per couple. The donation comes later in the enrollment process once all of your questions are answered, and you can cancel your recurring donation at any time if you decide our program is not a good fit for your marriage.
To start the enrollment process, or to ask questions about Marriagevolution, please provide your name and email below. You’ve got this, and we’ve got you. Let’s evolve together!